Film Review: “The ABCs of Death”

“The ABCs of Death” is for gore hounds that can appreciate a whopping WTF factor.


Review by David Feltman

“Let us pass beyond the boundaries of good taste and become one together.”

“The ABCs of Death” is an ambitious project. The film is an independent horror anthology that brings together 26 directors from 15 countries. Each director gets $5000 and five minutes to make a horror short themed after a letter from the alphabet. It’s a large undertaking, really too big for the 2 hour runtime. The meager five minutes allotted to each director gives them barely enough time to hatch an idea and rarely enough room to flesh out said idea.

A few of the most interesting entries excise dialogue entirely and rely on the fundamentals of filmmaking. Marcel Sarmiento’s “D is for Dogfight” is filled with stylized violence that artfully blurs the line between man and animal. The short relies on a few mutual looks of fear and reluctance to carry its narrative. Simon Rumley’s “P is for Pressure” wordlessly shows the horrifying desperation of a woman trying to provide a birthday present for her daughter.

Many segments are cartoonish and crude, but barely classifiable as horror. Extreme J-horror director Noboru Iguchi, known for such classics as “Robo-Geisha” and “Mutant Girl Squad,” presents “F is for Fart,” in which a killer black cloud, presumably the angry fart of God, wipes out Japan but is unable to extinguish the sacred lesbian love of a gassy schoolgirl and her teacher. Thomas Cappelen Malling’s “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion” is a creepily eroticized piece of Chuck Jones-styled violence where a Nazi stripper fox “furry” attempts to lure an English bulldog pilot into an elaborate trap.

Not all of the shorts are memorable. Most, like “B is for Bigfoot,” are just ok. While others, like “G is for Gravity,” are jumbled and poorly executed. The anthology often dissolves into a disorienting parade of bizarre spectacle rather than building a cohesively constructed collection. It’s the unevenness of the parts that weakens the whole.

Death is the only theme that binds the shorts together. The angles are exceedingly varied throughout, but someone at least manages to die in each vignette. The perspectives on death range from lighthearted and comedic (“N is for Nuptials”) to weird and disturbing, (“L is for Libido”) to bleak and misanthropic (“M is for Miscarriage”).

The project is too ambitious for its own good. It may simply be too much to expect to produce 26 short films without some duds. There are a few real winners and many of the entries are entertaining. But this won’t be a movie for everybody. “The ABCs of Death” is for gore hounds that can appreciate a whopping WTF factor. Guess what “W” is for?


You can watch “T is for Toilet” here:

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